We spoke to a few of them to find out what they enjoy most about volunteering, whether it’s in our libraries, county archives or countryside sites, to volunteer drivers or mentoring young people. It was clear, and heartening, that they appreciate the benefits of volunteering as much as communities do.
After retiring from working in corporate offices for 37 years David Pinhorne, from Hill Head, wanted to give something back to the community - something that was physically demanding and outdoors and would give structure to his week. He volunteers at Titchfield Haven. He said: “I do various jobs, from feeding the birds, to checking Land Rover engines to repairing and maintaining fences. The team work is brilliant. I’m with a team of five or six people every Wednesday. We get on very well and we’ve even met socially after volunteering.
"It’s too easy to stay at home on the computer or watch television. We know fitness, exercise and fresh air is good for you. So make every effort, get outside and volunteer – you’ll enjoy it.”
Our Countryside Service has a range of volunteering opportunities across the county including as rangers and farm hands, as well as for events, education and heritage projects.
Eastleigh College student Joshua Buckle has completed an impressive 132 hours of volunteering at Royal Victoria Country Park near Netley, researching its past as a military hospital as part of Heritage Lottery Fund project. Since October, he has researched regimental badges of soldiers buried at Netley Military Cemetery, as well as searching for popular music of the time that the hospital was opened.
Joshua, 18, said: “I’ve really enjoyed volunteering for this project as I’m interested in local history and I wanted to spend some of my free time giving something back to the community. I also wanted to gain some office experience and help build my CV to help me apply for jobs in a few years.”
Ellie Veel from Basingstoke volunteers after school at South Ham Library, helping with book shelving as well as preparing Saturday craft activities for children.
The 15-year-old said: “Originally, I just volunteered at South Ham Library as a service to the community for my Duke of Edinburgh award but then I chose to stay on, and now I am a weekly volunteer there. I have worked there for nearly five months and my tasks vary every week, depending on what needs to be done. I like being part of a team and it is good work experience.”
There are a range of volunteering opportunities across the County Council’s libraries, including helping children complete the Summer Reading Challenge, delivering books for the Home Library Service, as well as helping staff run Story Time and Rhyme Time sessions.
Volunteer driver John Murdoch from Southampton, said: “I have enjoyed being a voluntary driver for over 20 years. If you have any spare time and would like to help those in need, young and elderly. I think you would find it very rewarding.” Carol Loose volunteers from the New Forest and said: “Many of the clients I transport love to see a familiar face. When I return to work after a holiday they are so pleased to see me, it makes it so worthwhile.”
Volunteer drivers provide car transport for a wide variety of County Council clients including children, older people, parents, families and people with a disability. Volunteers need their own car and decide how often they would like to drive with daily, weekly, monthly or simply one off journeys available, to fit around other commitments.